Experimental vaccine which instructs the body to search and destroy tumours helped put three lymphoma patients into remission.
A cancer vaccine that manipulated the body into fighting tumours has put three lymphoma patients into remission.
The vaccine is safely injected directly into tumours, which then teaches the immune system to destroy it and search for othera cancerous cells.
Researchers tested the vaccine on 11 patients with lymphoma and said some went into full remission for months and even years.
The Clinical trials have had so much success that many experts believe it offers hope for a myriad of other cancers. Although the treatment is called a vaccine, it doesn’t prevent cancer. Instead, it teaches the person’s immune system to fight the disease.
Researchers at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital injected tumours with a stimulant that recruits immune cells called dendritic cells and after treating the tumour with a minute dose of radiotherapy, a secondary stimulant was injected to activate the dendritic cells.
This then instructed T cells, which are a type of white blood cell, to kill cancerous cells throughout the body but sparing non-cancerous cells, according to the study published in Nature Medicine.
This led to three of the patients to be put into remission as the treatment shrunk both the initial tumours targeted and other ones throughout their body.
People with lymphoma have abnormal lymphocytes – white blood cells that help fight infection – that have divided out of control, These lymphocytes can collect in any part of the body, most often in the armpits, neck or groin.
Lead author Dr Joshua Brody, director of the Lymphoma Immunotherapy Program at The Tisch Cancer Institute, said: ‘The in situ vaccine approach has broad implications for multiple types of cancer.’
This immunotherapy, which is still being researched, works by blocking points in the body’s immune system where cancerous cells can hide and avoid detection.
The results warranted more trials in March – a clinical trial for lymphoma, breast, and head and neck cancer patients opened to test the vaccine with checkpoint blockade drugs.
According to the researchers, the combination was at least three times more powerful than either checkpoint blockade or the vaccine by themselves.
They are ‘extremely optimistic’ about how effective this may be in further trials, and even described the tumour after treatment as a ‘cancer vaccine factory’.
“The results are exciting but said more research is needed as this was a small study.” – Dr Eric Jacobsen
Annually just over 1,700 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in the UK and 8,110 in the US. And 13,500 British people are told they have Non Hodgkin lymphoma each year, while around 74,200 Americans are given the same news.